Jake Shields plots comeback trail

Jake Shields. (JACK BOLAND/QMI Agency)

Jake Shields. (JACK BOLAND/QMI Agency)

NEIL SPRINGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:57 PM ET

Former welterweight title challenger Jake Shields will look to get back on track when he meets Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 144 in Saitama, Japan, Feb. 25, 2012.

After dropping a unanimous decision to champion Georges St. Pierre at UFC 129 in Toronto, Shields suffered a TKO loss to Jake Ellenberger at Fight Night 25 in September. It was the first time he had been stopped in more than 11 years.

Less than a month before the fight, Shields’ father and manager, Jack Shields, passed away at age 67. Shields admits it was hard to keep focused on Ellenberger, but doesn’t feel it played a role in the loss.

“Obviously I wasn’t too happy with the result,” Shields told QMI Agency. “It was just one of those things that happen. I got stunned with a knee and personally, I thought I was still fighting. But there wasn’t much I could do at that point. I’m still bummed out about it, but I just got to move forward.

“Of course it was difficult to stay focused, but overall I don’t think it was really a factor in the fight.

“Thanks to the fans (for their support). I plan on coming back much stronger next year.”

But before Shields welcomes Akiyama to the welterweight division, he’ll be returning to Toronto to take part in the MMA Expo Dec. 3-4. Without the responsibilities of a fight nagging at him, Shields said he looks forward to checking out the city.

“Obviously losing (in Toronto) wasn’t great, but overall the whole experience was good. The fans treated me well and it was crazy how many fans came out. I love the city. So when I get there I can enjoy myself without (the responsibilities) of fighting.

“There was a lot of PR, so I didn’t have time to check it out.”

TAKING THE FIGHT TO THE COURTS

Since a New York state ban on MMA competition prevents the UFC from promoting a fight at Madison Square Garden, it’s bringing one to the courts instead.

UFC parent company, Zuffa, LLC, filed a lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. district court against New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., stating the ban violates the First Amendment.

Since the state has numerous MMA schools and the sport can be viewed on television, it’s only the live show that is considered illegal. The UFC is alleging this prevents athletes from expressing themselves.

“Live professional MMA is clearly intended and understood as public entertainment and, as such, is expressive activity protected by the First Amendment,” the lawsuit said.

It’s an interesting tactic. At the very least, it will put the onus on opponents of the sport to prove why MMA should be prohibited.

DOS SANTOS-VELASQUEZ A RATINGS RULER

Junior dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez is officially the most-watched MMA fight in U.S. television history.

MMA Junkie reports 8.8-million viewers tuned in to see dos Santos capture the heavyweight championship with a first-round knockout at UFC on Fox on Saturday. Almost immediately following the bout, the audience dropped to 5.9 million.

The entire broadcast pulled an average of 5.7-million viewers. Had the bout lasted more than 64 seconds, that number would have likely been higher.

Not a bad start to the seven-year deal, which doesn’t officially kick in until 2012. The fight between dos Santos and Velasquez was considered a teaser and not part of the contract.

Looking to keep that momentum, the UFC has wasted no time in scheduling its next FOX event, this time on the pay channel FX.

Though an exact date and location has yet to be announced, two fights have been announced.

Pat Barry will meet Christian Morecraft in a heavyweight bout, while welterweights Josh Neer and Duane Ludwig will throw down.

NEED TO KNOW

Though Dan Henderson and Mauricio (Shogun) Rua are only now set to face each other, they’ve fought against eight common opponents.

Ricardo Arona

- KO loss to Rua

- Split decision win over Henderson

Akihiro Gono

- TKO loss to Rua

- KO loss to Henderson

Quinton Jackson

- TKO loss to Rua

- Unanimous decision win over Henderson

Hiromitsu Kanehara

- TKO loss to Rua

- Majority decision loss to Henderson

Kazuhiro Nakamura

- Unanimous decision loss to Rua

- TKO loss to Henderson

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

- Unanimous decision loss to Rua

- Submission win over Henderson

Akira Shoji

- KO loss to Rua

- TKO loss to Henderson

Renato Sobral

- Submission win over Rua

- Majority decision and KO losses to Henderson


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